Saturday, February 02, 2008

Exploring Research Roadblocks and Cooperation

Intellectual property bottlenecks, data withholding and regulatory complexity involving embryonic stem cell research – all are part of a daylong meeting next Wednesday at the Mission Bay Conference Center of UC San Francisco.

Speakers include Bob Klein, chairman of the California stem cell agency, and its new president, Alan Trounson. Others include Jeanne Loring, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Scripps Institute; Jonathan Auerbach(see photo), president of GlobalStem in Maryland, and Michael West, CEO of Biotime in California, plus a host of academics.

The session is aimed at exploring a collaboration among various institutions to improve research sharing and cooperation.

Here is an an excerpt from a paper prepared in advance of the meeting. The authors are Krishanu Saha, Gregory Graff and David Winickoff, all of UC Berkeley.
"The technical, proprietary, and regulatory conditions currently giving shape to stem cell R&D are far from ideal: closed information, congested entitlements, and regulatory uncertainty present formidable challenges for the conduct of research and its translation into practical applications. Such an environment is likely to slow the pace of innovation, skew the distribution of health benefits towards the wealthy, and force ethical decision-making that lacks public accountability.

"Here we propose an institutional mechanism to coordinate the conduct and governance of human stem cell R&D: a collaboration among academic institutions to collect and make available information detailing the technical, proprietary, and ethical characteristics of cell lines and research tools developed at participating institutions. Centralization would help promote more efficient transfer and use of available and ethically preferential technologies. The coalition could also leverage the collected information to assemble and disseminate complex enabling research tools under common material transfer agreements or patent pools in those cases where multiple patents are necessary but are fractionated across multiple owners."
The session, which is sponsored by the UC Berkeley Stem Cell Center and the Science, Technology and Society Center, also at UC Berkeley, appears to be open to the public with no admission charge.

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